Shot with IMAX technology, this second installment in the franchise is a visual feast. From the costumes to the treacherous jungle, it will have you on the edge of your seat. But there’s a lot to take in, so read below to make sure you get the most out of the movie.
Is a mockingjay a real bird?
No, mockingjays are not real birds that live on Earth, they live only in The Hunger Games mythology. They’re a symbol for rebellion, however, because they’re the unexpected offspring of a mockingbird (a real bird) and a jabberjay (also only part of The Hunger Games mythology). In the novels by Suzanne Collins, jabberjays were created in a laboratory in the Capitol to be used as a means of surveillance. The birds would spy on Panem’s rebels and repeat back whole conversations. When citizens became aware of this, they began feeding the birds lies, undermining the Capitol’s efforts to snoop. What the Capitol didn’t anticipate was that the jabberjays would mate with mockingbirds to create a new species called the mockingjay that could repeat both human dialogue and bird songs.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire book vs. movie: 7 Tweaks >>
Oh, those dresses!
If the Capitol is anything, it’s futuristic couture. Trish Summerville, known best for styling Lisbeth Salander in 2011’s The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, borrowed the talents of Alexander McQueen for Effie’s gowns. Summerville said, “I went through and looked at people who could really bring something to the Capitol. With Effie and Alexander McQueen, I just felt like Sarah Burton’s work and McQueen’s archive pieces so fit the character of Effie so that seemed like a really logical decision.” Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) renews herself in a gorgeous butterfly dress that literally has a kaleidoscope of butterflies ready to take flight from her hair. But the real showstopper is Katniss‘ white wedding dress that was beaded with thousands of Swarovski crystals. The dress undergoes a metamorphosis of its own when it bursts into flames, revealing the dazzling mockingjay dress, complete with wings! Summerville said, “The dress is literally a screen printing of feathers that are a combination of blue jays, mockingjays and peacocks.” It’s a stunner. We’re curious to see if any real-life wedding or prom dresses this year include wings or feathers in honor of this dress.
Sam Claflin and Jena Malone are awesome
Though fans were initially outraged when Sam Claflin was cast as Finnick Odair, we’re here to tell you he gives a fabulous performance in the film. With a hot bod he likes to show off, a twinkle in his eye and charm that alarms, we think he was a fantastic choice to pit against tough chick Katniss, who’s too smart to fall for his flirting. Jena Malone as Johanna Mason brings a raw edge to the film, creating a fun rebelliousness that counterbalances Katniss’ tendency to get a bit mopey. Johanna is the one character who feels like an authentic teenager.
Menacing digital monkeys
The digital effects team had its work cut out for it when it came to recreating the monkey attack from the book Catching Fire book. They had to study primatology to learn the details of how non-human primates move and behave. The team based the monkeys in the movie on two species: Drills and Mandrills. Drills live in Africa and are known for being super-muscular and having giant fangs. Mandrills are known for their colorful, almost painted-looking faces. Since they were all digitally created, the actors used stuntmen as stand-ins or even cardboard cutouts to pretend they were interacting with these fearsome creatures.
Is director Francis Lawrence related to Jennifer?
Nope, they just happen to share the same last name. Francis Lawrence directed Catching Fire and is currently shooting Mockingjay — Part One that is set to release November of 2014. Part Two releases in November of 2015. Lawrence has directed such films as Water for Elephants and I am Legend, as well as music videos for Green Day and Jennifer Lopez. The 42-year-old director claims his take on Catching Fire was heavily influenced by the TV show Breaking Bad, since he was binge-watching the DVDs while making the film. He said, “I know it’s weird because TV people used to always look at movies for inspiration, and now, suddenly, we’re looking at some great TV shows as inspiration. But they opened bold and they end bold, and I just think that that’s fun stuff.”
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens in theaters Nov. 22.